Definition, Benefits, and Safety Record of IFPS

Definition of IFPS

Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) are concentrated, in-home services designed to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement of children. Families are referred at the point where an out-of-home placement is imminent. Referrals may come from a variety of child and family-serving systems including child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, and developmental disabilities. In home contact with families occurs within 24 hours of referral. IFPS therapists receive special training to provide families a mix of cognitive behavioral therapy, family counseling, teaching skills, and help with basic needs. Therapists serve only a few families at a time and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most families receive approximately 40 hours of face to face service over the 4–6 weeks of the intervention.

IFPS is a model of service, not a philosophy to preserve families at all costs. If children cannot be safely maintained at home, then removal is in their best interest. On the other hand, IFPS is not appropriate for families whose children are not at high risk of removal. There are less intensive service models that can provide support to these families. IFPS is reserved for families facing imminent placement of a child.

Benefits of IFPS = Better Outcomes for Children

  • Children in foster care spend an average of more than two years away from their homes.
  • A child is twice as likely to die from abuse in foster care as in his own home.
  • Maltreated children placed out-of-home exhibit significant behavior problems in comparison to maltreated children who remain in their homes.
  • Maltreated children removed from their homes later experience higher delinquency rates, teen birth rates, and lower earnings than children who remain in their homes.

With appropriate targeting, IFPS diverts 80–90+ percent of children from out-of-home placement, but it is estimated that states provide IFPS to fewer than 1 in 10 children about to be placed in foster care.  IFPS programs adhering to the Homebuilders® model are very cost-effective: $2.54 of benefits for each dollar of cost due to reduced out-of-home placements and lowered incidence of abuse and neglect.

Safety Record

In over three decades of IFPS nationwide with thousands of families served, there has been less than a handful of child deaths linked to IFPS, either during or after the intervention.

To what can this strong safety record of IFPS be attributed?

  • The safety of the child is the highest priority.
  • IFPS therapists respond immediately to family crises.
  • IFPS therapists meet with families in the home, which allows for a more thorough assessment and opportunities for effective intervention.
  • IFPS therapists see families frequently, sometimes for hours at a time, in order to provide a quick response to emergencies and to teach skills during a crisis when families are most willing to learn new behaviors
  • Prior to closing the intervention, IFPS therapists connect families with other community services to reinforce gains.
  • Therapist training, supervision, and ongoing monitoring and quality assurance provide additional measures to ensure the safety of families.

We’d like to hear your views on the benefits of IFPS.
What is your experience with the safety record of IFPS interventions?

Posted by Peg Marckworth